Beneath The Surface with Suzi Weissman airs every Friday on KPFK Pacifica Radio from 5:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. Tune in at 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, and worldwide on KPFK.ORG. You can listen to archived shows online on the KPFK website.

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BTS 1/21/11: Obama's Economic Policy; Baby Doc & Haiti; Stalin's Romeo Spy

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Paul Volcker is out and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt is in as Chair of a new “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” Are jobs the top priority? GE just announced big new investments in China, coinciding with Chinese Pres. Hu’s symbolic visit to the US. Symbolism aside, what direction in economic policy can we discern, what does it mean for state and local governments toying with bankruptcy, the concerted attack on pensions and public sector workers? We’ll ask Jack Rasmus to outline the political response to US economic reality and whether he sees solutions that provide relief to the population, not just the corporate sector.

One year after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, the monster dictator from the past tries to sneak back into Haiti – he says to help, but it appears that he wants to help himself to more money. Terror, torture and corruption characterized the rule of the Duvaliers, but it didn’t end with the dictatorship. Critical elections were just held, marked by widespread fraud, irregularities and corruption. Frantz Voltaire, film maker, historian, founder and director of CIDIHCA, appointed by President Preval to coordinate international cooperation between Canadian and Haitian organizations, was part of Haiti’s government in 1993-94, and has spent time in Haitian prisons. He joins us to talk about Haiti’s present and prospects.

Emil Draitser is back with a new book, Stalin’s Romeo Spy, a story more compelling than can be found in the best spy fiction. Dimitri Bystroyotov was a dashing man whose modus operandi was the seduction of women—among them a French Embassy employee, the wife of a British official, and a disfigured Gestapo officer. He stole military secrets from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and enabled Stalin to look into the diplomatic pouches of many European countries. He was rewarded for his service, as was customary during Stalin’s rule, with arrest, torture, and 20 years hard labor in the gulag. Emil joins us to tell us some of the stories.

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BTS 1/14/11: Economic, Environmental and Political Crises converge and intersect, defining the Century’s Second Decade

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The second decade of the 21st century has opened with interlocking crises that demonstrate the grave insecurities the global community faces, crises that define the decade. These interlinking crises are economic, environmental, political -- and military. From the epic floods in Australia, Sri Lanka and Brazil, to the Af-Pak wars to the continuing deterioration of the global economy the common threads are increasing dislocation, unemployment and social frustration. We look at a few of these converging crises today on Beneath the Surface. We begin with the events in Tunisia, once thought of as the most stable and pro-Western of Arab countries, where authoritarian rule, corruption and neglect of the deteriorating economic prospects for the population have led to escalating protests, social unrest and earlier today President Ben Ali fled the country. We’ll talk to Christopher Alexander, a Tunisian specialist at Davidson College. We then turn to Arizona, focus of political violence this week: Joel Olson, who teaches political science at Northern Arizona University, describes what it’s like to live in Arizona now, after the passage of the notorious anti-immigration bill, the outlawing of ethnic studies, the collapsed housing market, deteriorating economy and now the shooting of Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords. And, lest we forget, Martin Luther King Day is Monday. Dr. King was supporting Memphis public sector workers when he was assassinated, and honoring King today means defending public sector workers, under attack as state budgets decline. We’ll talk to Horace Small of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods. And finally, on tonight’s BTS we talk to Loren Goldner about the repression of workers in South Korea. All this, when our program returns, in just a moment.

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BTS 1/7/11: The Face of Decline, America, California, UK and Europe

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The jobless rate has fallen slightly, yet we continue the downward slope of decline with inadequate political solutions. We begin tonight talking to Harold Meyerson who described the face of American decline in his recent Washington Post column, concluding that our economic woes are not cyclical or structural -- they are mainly institutional, the consequence of U.S. corporate behavior that has plunged us into a downward cycle and Harold insists the solutions must be similarly institutional, or there will be no real prospects for reversing America's downward mobility. We talk to Harold about the political responses we can expect from the Obama administration now that the Republicans dominate the House and refuse to address the real problems we face, as well as Harold's hopes for California under a Brown governorship.

We then talk to Richard Walker, UC Berkeley geographer, in this extended discussion on decline: he has an article in the latest New Left Review on the dimensions of California’s crisis—housing bubble, fiscal woes, rising inequality and whether the Golden State offers a preview of what lies in store for the Global North. Richard also just led the successful petition drive at UC against the top administrators who refused to accept a pension cap. We’ll ask him about strategies to save public higher education in California.

Hillel Ticktin, Professor Emeritus from Glasgow University brings us the view of decline from the UK and Eurozone. He looks at the ways capitalism has changed and how the system has seized up. Corporations are sitting on mountains of cash they are not investing (at least in industry in the developed world) so the cash can't be converted to capital. Finance and corporations hold money and object to governments taxing it to use for real investment, while governments lead the attack on labor and living standards seemingly to reassure capital so it can invest.

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12/24/10 - 12/31/10: Holiday Break

Beneath the Surface is off the air for Christmas and New Years' Eve - KPFK Holiday specials will be airing in their place. We will be back on the first Friday of 2011.

Happy Holidays from Suzi and the BTS team!

BTS 12/17/10: Greek Protests; Wikileaks

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As we continue to look at media complicity with the State in the case of WikiLeaks – the media joins with the state to protect state secrets rather than the public’s right to know – there is another case missing in action on US and European television: a virtual blackout about Greek strikes and protests against a new wave of savage cuts, ‘called austerity measures’ that have turned increasingly violent. The media has simply omitted the story, yet striking public and private sector workers in Greece have grounded flights, shut down schools and paralyzed public transport. Clashes erupted between police and protesters in Athens, and even the IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn has expressed sympathy with ordinary Greeks feeling the pain of the cuts. But the extraordinary video of the protests is not being broadcast on the mainstream media – even as workers rally against austerity measure in other European countries including Spain, France and the UK. We’ll talk to Savas Michael Matsas in Greece, just home from the day’s actions.

And then we talk to Tom Hayden about what the WikiLeaks have confirmed about the Af-Pak and Iraq wars, the US government’s efforts to silence the leaks, punish the leakers (Bradley Manning is in solitary without even a blanket or pillow) and push Sweden to extradite Assange to America where he can presumably be silenced.

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BTS 12/10/10: Obama and Republicans, Media and Wikileaks; Tambien la Lluvia

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On tonight's program, John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, joins us to talk about President Obama’s compromise tax deal with the Republicans that protects an aristocracy of wealth, the mutiny of Obama’s party and the battle with his base. We’ll also talk to John about the media and WikiLeaks. How is it that many media outlets have joined forces with Politicians to shift the debate to the character of Julian Assange? What about the character of the US government which now employs its massive power to discredit and destroy Assange for letting the public in on ‘secrets’ that demonstrate duplicity and official deceit hiding behind the claim of protecting national security? John has written extensively about the role of the media, and we’ll ask him what has happened to a media who joins with the state to protect state secrets rather than the public’s right to know.

Paul Laverty, screenwriter, joins us to talk about his new film “Even the Rain” (Tambien La Lluvia) which is Spain's Official Submission for the 2011 Academy Awards. It screens tonight in New York City and opens in Los Angeles in early February. We’ll be giving away tickets to the film on today’s program as one of our thank you gifts. TAMBIEN LA LLUVIA (Even the Rain), directed by Iciar Bollain and written by Scottish screenwriter Paul Laverty, is about, in the director’s words, “resistance and friendship. It’s a personal journey….an adventure undertaken by characters which brings the past into the present.” The story intertwines Columbus’ arrival in the Americas with the making of a film; it mixes the Spanish crown’s exploitation of gold in the 16th century with the fight for water in Cochabamba in the year 2000. The film takes us from the fiction of a period film to the reality of a film set in a small Bolivian city. And from that reality to another which is deeper and more dramatic, that faced by people with practically no rights, prohibited by law from collecting even the rain.

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BTS 12/3/10: US Deficit Hysteria; Haiti; Wikileaks and Russia

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On tonight’s program we begin with Thomas Ferguson and Robert Johnson from the Roosevelt Institute who have just written “A World Upside Down -- Deficit Fantasies in the Great Recession” demonstrating that the current hysteria over deficits in the US is unjustified. Not only is social security not in danger nor in need of a fix, they say stimulating the economy with a program of public investment would substantially reduce public debts in the long run. They’ll join us to explain.

We then turn to Haiti, just fresh from an election after a year that has seen a catastrophic earthquake that devastated the population and killed the political class, a cholera epidemic and now an election. Michael Deibert has been visiting Haiti off and on for fifteen years and is the author of the book Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti. He notes the agonizingly slow pace of Haiti’s partners abroad to deliver aid to a country a county on its knees has been sobering for the callousness and cynicism that it has displayed.

And finally on tonight’s BTS, we haven’t ignored the WikiLeaks, but turn to the leaks that characterize Russia as a “mafia state” with Mike Urban of UC Santa Cruz. Mike’s new book Cultures of Power in Post-Communist Russia: An Analysis of Elite Political Discourse looks at the way Russian leaders from Gorbachev to Putin and Medvedev construct themselves with words as well as the reality they have presided over – an authoritarian state proclaiming itself a democracy.

In the final minutes tonight Alan Minsky will join Mike to speculate about the surprising FIFA announcement that Russia will host the 2018 World Cup.

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BTS 11/12/10: Washington and Wall Street’s Long Con; Survivors of Stalin's Gulag

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With last week’s election now behind us, we are rapidly approaching a high-stakes lame duck session of Congress in which implementation of the recent financial reform bill will be on the line. This legislation, however, is not a foregone conclusion. Now that the ‘deficit commission’ issued a power point proposal, it turns out tax reduction for the wealthy was at the top of their list, and deficit reduction number 7. We go beneath the surface on the story behind, with a preview of the conversation taking place Nov. 12 at Largo at the Coronet Theatre, between award-winning columnist Matt Taibbi and Demos Senior Fellow Nomi Prins on the finance industry's role in the destabilization of the American economy and political system. Nomi Prins has insider knowledge, having worked at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns –she tells that story in her book It Takes a Pillage - while Matt Taibbi brings the outsider perspective (analytical, clear and superbly written) found in his newest book, Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America - a fresh analysis of how the finance industry has done a disservice to all Americans. Taibbi and Prins grasp Wall Street's villainous groupthink and put it into layman's English. Don’t miss it.

Stephen F. Cohen just returned from another trip to Russia – we’ll ask him about repression of journalists and the direction of the country under Medvedev’s leadership (with Putin in charge) and we’ll review his newest book The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin. He’ll be at a book talk with his wife, publisher of The Nation, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, at Book Soup on November 18. Somewhere between 12 and 20 million perished during Stalin’s forced collectivization of agriculture and political purges-- an attack on his own population during peacetime. Those who survived are telling their stories, and Stephen Cohen’s interviews over thirty years with them brings us the voices of the voiceless, a mighty rebuke to Stalin’s efforts to silence any form of dissent, actual or potential.

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BTS 11/5/10: Robert Borosage on fighting back, James Galbraith on economic strategy, Joshua Kors on abandoned Vets

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We begin tonight's broadcast with Robert Borosage who joins us for post midterm election analysis. His organization, the Campaign for America’s future released an Election Day poll today that shows there is no mandate to gut progressive reforms. And it reveals that voters are looking for a bold vision and serious agenda to revive America. Borosage says “mourning is over, it’s time to organize.”

We then talk to economist and Professor James Galbraith, author most recently of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too, to define the economic problems we face in light of Tuesday's election, and we’ll ask him what strategy could be pursued. Galbraith sees the banks as the problem, but also the Obama administration's failure to take on the financial sector.

And finally on tonight's Beneath The Surface, Joshua Kors updates us, just in time for Veterans Day next week, about the continuing story of how our returning Vets are being abandoned by the VA and treated as disposable by the Pentagon.

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BTS 10/15/10: Fund Drive Special - Chris Hedges and "The Death of the Liberal Class"

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Click here to support KPFK and Beneath The Surface during our Fall Fund Drive!

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, is the former Middle East Bureau Chief of The New York Times, a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and author of many books, including War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Empire of Illusion, Losing Moses on the Freeway: I Don't Believe in Atheists, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

His latest book, which will be published in December, is the Death of the Liberal Class, a lucid and disturbing look inside America's fallen liberal institutions. For decades the liberal class defended all Americans against the worst excesses of power. But the pillars of this class—the press, the universities, trade unions, the Democrats, and the liberal church—have collapsed. In its absence the needs of the poor, the working class, and even the middle class have no champion. Hedges argues that the gravest danger we face is not from the far right, but the bankrupt liberal class that has lost the will to fight and the moral courage to stand up for what it espouses. Death of the Liberal Class examines the liberals who have abdicated responsibility and formulates a clarion call for reform. Don’t miss this extended conversation with Chris Hedges about the passivity and weakness of American liberalism.